4CR Game Preview – Dark
Vampires in video games are rarely exploited to the same degree as zombies, Nazis, or evil kings. When they are used, vampires are usually given over the top powers, or the archetype is adjusted in a significant way so as to retain little of the essence of vampire myth. Legacy of Kain presented nosferatu in a pretty straightforward way, but it’s sequel Soul Reaver reworked the vampire into something more overtly alien. Bloodrayne approaches vampires in a fairly straightforward way, but tends to take the hypersexualization that crept into the genre over the years as its main queue and results in the sort of male-targeted jiggle-fest that that has been a black eye of the industry for decades.
So the question then becomes, will Dark, the new “vampire stealth” game from Kalypso buck this trend and provide a more legitimately engaging vampire game while walking a line between the Victorian/Angster* smut of Anne Rice/Twilight and the blood-sucking-smut approach of Bloodrayne and every grindhouse vampire film ever.
I got the chance to try out an early build of Dark a few weeks ago and at least initially, it appears that Kalypso might have a solid chance at bringing something legitimately new to the cross-section of vampire lore and video games. Dark seems to have far more in common with the vampire of Blade than any other representation in modern media. Vampire abilities are treated as only abilities and are not accompanied by bad hair, excessive leatherwear, or frilly cravats. This makes the game feel far more like Prototype or Infamous. The protagonist is blessed/cursed with superhuman abilities and is up against immense odds. In a sense, the setup felt far more like X-Men than Stoker.
The other aspect of Dark that is immediately noticeable is the graphics. The choice to cell shade such a thematically and visually dark game is interesting and results in some very cool and almost inherently unsettling visuals. Not ugly, but unsettling. The graphics appear clean and well done considering the early state of the build I was playing, but the cell shaded nature of the game really only jumps out during cutscenes due to the quality of the texturing. I don’t know if it was an intentional choice to try to increase the alienness of the vampire experience, but it certainly does the job.
All in all, Dark looks like it could have some serious legs in a pretty underutilized genre. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on it for the foreseeable future.
* I propose that we once and for all just agree that the angsty hipsters (Angsters) of Twilight are just victorians with skinny jeans.